Why Southerners Love Putting Salt on Watermelon

Cool and crisp, there's nothing like biting down on a slice of watermelon when the weather gets warmer. Some people prefer it plain, but if you've ever spent a summer in the South, you've probably been offered the salt shaker before digging into the melon. The reason is strictly for flavor and once you try putting salt on watermelon, you'll never go back to eating it plain.

Why Put Salt on Watermelon?

While I didn't grow up in the South, (Southern California couldn't be further away), I did learn how to add a bit of salt to my watermelon from my dad who learned it from his mother. Essentially if you add something savory to something sweet, it opens up your taste buds and makes it sweeter. That's why prosciutto wrapped around cantaloupe and feta watermelon salad is so darn tasty. The sweetness of the melon comes out with a pinch of salt.

Salting watermelon has been a southern tradition for over a century. According to Post and Courier, a story from 1910 responds to a local asking how best to prepare watermelon:

"Cut the ripe, pink flesh from a good-sized watermelon, put it into a freezing can and pack with salt and ice; turn the crank slowly until the watermelon is half-frozen. Serve in punch bowl glasses at the end of dinner. Those who use wine, may add to each glass a tablespoonful of sherry."

Alcohol and watermelon? Sign me up!

Who Else Salts Their Fruit?

Southerners aren't the only ones that like to add a little bit of savoriness to their fruits. Stop at a corner store in Texas and pick up a fruit cup piled high with fresh fruit and savory toppings. Cups can range from jicama and cucumber with pork skin, chili powder, and lime juice to snow cones topped with summertime fruits and chamoy, a savory sauce made from pickled fruit.

Best Salt for Watermelon

While table salt is the most readily available, I highly suggest using flaky kosher salt to add a nice little salty crunch. I've also experimented with smoked salt and it adds a wonderful smoky element to the sweet fruit.What can I say, there's nothing sweeter than eating sweet watermelon topped with kosher salt. While you're at it, sprinkle salt on your grapefruit.

READ MORE: The 12 Different Types of Salt + How to Use Each